Michael Sarver finished in the Top Ten of American Idol's ninth season, and hopes to follow fellow Idol stars Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, and Phil Stacey onto the country music charts. Sarver has a good voice, he wouldn't have lasted on Idol if he didn't, but like many Idol singers, he has a tendency to mistake volume for sincerity. On the positive side, Sarver wrote or co-wrote six of the album's 13 tracks, and they're among the album's strongest tunes here. "Watch Me" is a country rocker about a poor country boy overcoming adversary, and despite a lyric loaded with clichés, Sarver makes the song come alive. "Tell Me," a ballad about a son confronting a dad who left the family in poverty, gets a sincere reading that makes it truly moving. "Gonna Be a Good Night" is a bluesy country-rocker with hard, metallic guitar and plenty of energy, while "I'm in the Mood" is a sensual, albeit PG, love song. When Sarver slides up to falsetto on the chorus, he sounds really sexy. "Cinderella Girl" has a dark bluesy vibe, but it's a tribute to the passion between a husband and wife that the years can't extinguish. "You Are," the one tune he wrote on his own, is a solid, simmering song with a soulful vocal. The rest of the material sounds like Nashville product, a collection of clichés with serviceable but unexceptional melodies. The exceptions are "Always Surviving," a working-class rocker about a kid who triumphs over the schoolyard bullies to become a good father; "Ferris Wheel," the album's first single and a decent love song; and "The Way She Loves Me," another PG love song that Sarver manages to imbue with a believable passion.
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AllMusic Review by j. poet